The international break is a quiet time for football, with little in the way of breaking news, but each manager's choices in his squad selection ensure there are talking points aplenty and a fair, though relatively small, amount of controversy. The continued inclusion of Emile Heskey in England squads right up until 2010 was guaranteed to get tongues wagging, and while there isn't quite so absurd an inclusion this time around, there are still players that have missed out on the top sides' squads, and the decisions to omit them are certainly debatable.
Currently boasting the third highest WhoScored rating (7.44) in Ligue 1 this season, Toulouse's combative midfielder Etienne Capoue has been left out of Didier Deschamps' latest squad, with the France coach citing a lack of form as his reasoning. Any lack of form hasn't been noticed by his club manager Alain Casanova, who has had Capoue on the field 88.5% of the time this term. Whilst he has chipped in with 4 goals - making him Toulouse's second top scorer - and 2 assists, he is primarily concerned with sweeping up in front of the defence and distributing the ball to begin attacking moves.
He gets on the ball more than most thanks to his 2.3 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game. However, whilst he has played the second most passes in the league (1672), he ranks third for both completed passes (1340) and misplaced passes (332), giving him a rather average pass completion rate of 80.1%, and that, in the eyes of Deschamps at least, is just not up to international standard.
As the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season with 13 goals, Lambert is particularly unlucky to find his form overlooked by Roy Hodgson for his latest squad. The fact that he plays for lowly Southampton should not be reason to omit him, but rather be more impressed with his goal haul, particularly given that he is not surrounded by the quality that the likes of Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck are. Those two, incidentally, have just 11 Premier League goals between them in 2012/13. Furthermore, Lambert's all-round game means he creates as well. In fact, only Luis Suarez and David Silva have laid on more goalscoring chances for teammates in open play this season than Lambert (62). His average rating of 7.12 ranks him higher than Defoe, Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge, and the Liverpudlian striker certainly deserves a chance on the international stage.
While Totti's exclusion from the Italy squad wasn't all that surprising, there has been growing support for his return to the international fold, with his age the primary concern of doubters, while his ability cannot be questioned. He recently moved into the top 2 of the Serie A all time goalscorers list, and has stated his desire to chase down Silvio Piola's record before he retires. That implies he plans on sticking about for the foreseeable future so an Italy recall isn't totally off the cards given what he still offers. Totti has completed 42 through balls this season, which is at least 15 more than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues, whilst he has created the 3rd most scoring chances in Serie A and his total of 21 goals and assists is second only to Edinson Cavani. He does try one too many outrageous pass or shot though, and he has resultantly lost possession more times (377) than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues this season. Prandelli clearly doesn't think he's a risk worth taking - just yet, at least.
Leverkusen's Spanish right-back Daniel Carvajal has impressed in a season where his side have put in a decent challenge for second spot in the table and look set to qualify for Champions League football. Carvajal has represented his country at youth level but has so far been overlooked at senior level. Having come through the youth ranks at Real Madrid, though, his quality was always going to shine through eventually and this could be the season he eventually makes inroads on the international scene. Composed on the ball, he is also useful without it, making the 4th most tackles (94) and 3rd most interceptions (91) in the Bundesliga this season. He possesses an attacking threat as well, with 4 assists and a goal this term. Spain's first choice right-back is still Alvaro Arbeloa, and if there is one part of their incredible team that needs improving it would almost certainly be there, and Carvajal could just be the man for the job.
One might have thought that an injury to Miroslav Klose coupled with the form of Stefan Kiessling could have been enough to earn Carvajal's teammate a call up to the Germany squad, but coach Joachim Lowe has instead opted to take just one centre forward - Bayern's Mario Gomez - along for the upcoming qualifiers. He might have enjoyed significantly more game time this season than Gomez, but Kiessling has earned it, scoring 16 goals to Gomez's 7; a tally that is only bettered by Robert Lewandowski's 19 in the league. He is the 4th highest rated player in Europe's top 5 leagues this season (7.96) behind only Lionel Messi, Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo, and both his goals and rating are in no small part down to the vast aerial threat he provides.
Across those European divisions, only 3 from the Premier League (Carroll, Benteke, Crouch) have won more aerial duels than Kiessling (146). Whilst that may not persuade many football fans, or more importantly Lowe, Kiessling gives so much more than that stat suggests. He is a constant nuisance to opposition defenders and his form has been consistent throughout the season. With 8 goals and 5 assists in his last 14 appearances he would be a good second option for Germany to have on their bench.